In My Boots: Another four years

Could reining ever be an Olympic sport? Horse Nation’s all-things-western guru Kristen Kovatch makes a convincing case for “yes.”

From Kristen:

When the rest of the world turns its attention to London and the Olympic games, I will be right there with them, eagerly watching the exploits of the US teams as they compete for the gold in eventing, show jumping and dressage. No matter what I might be doing with my equestrian life at the moment, I grew up with the Olympians as my idols. Somewhere along the way my path diverged from soaring over obstacles higher than my head and merged instead to working cattle and covering myself in spandex and glitter, but I’ve still got Olympic fever.

Except that every four years I find myself hoping that maybe this will be the Games in which reining enters the scene.

It’s a pretty lofty hope, I know, so recent after reining being recognized by the FEI in 2000 and included in the World Equestrian Games starting in 2002. There are plenty of other FEI-recognized disciplines that are not represented in the Olympics, including driving, endurance and vaulting. Maybe setting its sights on the Olympics is just too much too soon. Reining doesn’t have the ages-old history of dressage or the same death-defying allure of cross-country.

And yet reining has its own beauty, a blend of grace and athleticism and superb communication. The NRHA rulebook states that horses should be “willingly guided or controlled with little or no apparent resistance,” and to watch some of the best pairs in the country is to see this description brought to life. To ride a truly well-broke reiner is both awe-inspiring and terrifying—every movement you make has a response in the horse (not too different from riding a great dressage horse.)

Reining was born from the moves a cowboy’s horse might make in a day’s work—loping at different speeds, changing leads on the fly, spinning and rolling back on the haunches, and of course sliding to a stop to cut off a cow. Like other equestrian disciplines it evolved from real working horses and became a signature competition of western riding. It’s been exported all over the world and has a huge international following. It’s always a crowd pleaser and is one of the fastest-growing disciplines in any seat. Reining has almost everything going for it except for that elusive Olympic elevation.

If you’re not convinced, this pump-up preview of the WEG US reining team will certainly prove my point.

Maybe 2016 will be our year.

In the meantime, go Team USA, and go reining!

Leave a Comment


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *